Story of China, PBS, TCA17


The Story of China premieres in the US this Summer – June 20, 2017! #StoryofChinaPBS

The Story of China premieres in the US this Summer - June 20, 2017! #StoryofChinaPBS Photo Credits Rahoul Ghose/PBS

The Story of China premieres in the US this Summer – June 20, 2017! #StoryofChinaPBS
Photo Credits Rahoul Ghose/PBS

Yesterday the Story of China team were at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour #TCA17 in Pasadena, CA. Here are some photos of historian, writer and host Michael Wood, producer and director Rebecca Dobbs and Harvard postdoctoral fellow Lik Hang Tsui discussing the history of China, from the ancient past to the present day.

Historian, writer and host Michael Wood, producer and director Rebecca Dobbs and Harvard postdoctoral fellow Lik Hang Tsui discussing the history of China, from the ancient past to the present day. Photo Credits Rahoul Ghose/PBS

Historian, writer and host Michael Wood, producer and director Rebecca Dobbs and Harvard postdoctoral fellow Lik Hang Tsui discussing the history of China, from the ancient past to the present day.
Photo Credits Rahoul Ghose/PBS

The show started with an amazingly colourful Lion Dance performance from the Immortals Lion Dance team.

The Immortals Lion Dance Team performing at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour #TCA17 in Pasadena, CA. Photo Credits Rahoul Ghose/PBS

The Immortals Lion Dance Team performing at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour #TCA17 in Pasadena, CA. Photo Credits Rahoul Ghose/PBS

When discussing The Story of China Michael Wood told the press at TCA17 that the ‘crucial thing is the living culture’. He explained he wants the series to be ‘immersive’ in its depiction of a ‘living civilization’. Michael then told the story of the 8th Century Chinese Emperor who walked among the poor in disguise.

Historian, writer and host Michael Wood. Photo Credits Rahoul Ghose/PBS

Historian, writer and host Michael Wood.
Photo Credits Rahoul Ghose/PBS

Producer/Director Rebecca Dobbs explained how ‘it was surprisingly easy to get access’ during their 3 years of filming in China.

Producer and director Rebecca Dobbs. Photo Credits Rahoul Ghose/PBS

Producer and director Rebecca Dobbs.
Photo Credits Rahoul Ghose/PBS



See more pics here:…/pbs_press_t…/sets/72157679245011945

Photo Credits Rahoul Ghose/PBS



Fresh snow sparkle in the sun. Snow background.

Thanks to all our friends and colleagues for a great year!

Hope 2017 is fantastic for everyone – The Story of China airs in the US next year!

And to steal a line from our good friend and partner Leo Eaton:

‘May your ratings be huge, your commissioners intelligent, your critics kind and, if you are using platform-agnostic distribution, your ‘play’ and ‘finish’ numbers astronomical’





SCEN China Youth Summit

Here’s another event Michael is doing, this time in Scotland!

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of SCEN (Scotland China Education Network), on Friday 2nd December, Michael will be doing a talk about The Story of China at the SCEN China Youth Summit!

Michael will discuss his recent 6-part history documentary series on the history of China, accompanied by clips from the show.

Michael Wood with students at Yanshi middle school where there is a tomb monument to poet Du Fu

Michael Wood with students at Yanshi middle school in China


The Pentland Auditorium,
Edinburgh International Conference Centre,
Morrison Street, Edinburgh, EH3 8EE.



Event and Refreshments free.

Please book with Judith McClure:

For more information, see the link here


Pembroke College Oxford, Lecture

Michael Wood talk on the 'Excitement of history' at Pembroke College

Michael Wood talk on the ‘Excitement of history’ at Pembroke College

Michael Wood on The Excitement of History at Pembroke College, Oxford.

At this Pembroke College lecture Michael Wood will speak on ‘The Excitement of History: Making History Programmes on TV’.

With clips from over thirty years of making history documentaries, historian and film maker Michael Wood talks about some of the different ways of looking at history for popular audiences, including New World, Chinese and Indian history.

This event will begin at 5pm, and will be followed by your questions and a drinks reception.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is required. Please register via Eventbrite.

For more details, see here


Hakluyt Society Lecture

Michael Wood is doing a free public lecture ‘Voyages, Traffiques, Discoveries’ for the Hakluyt Society this Friday, 25/11, 5-6.45PM Examination Schools (South), Oxford. No registration is required.

We would love to see you there!

Historian, broadcaster and filmmaker Michael Wood will be speaking on Friday in Oxford as part of the 400th anniversary celebrations for Richard Hakluyt who died the same year as Shakespeare in 1616.  Hakluyt is an absolutely fascinating figure says Michael, his book is an astounding compilation of English voyages and discoveries up to his time – what we might call the beginnings of the great British historical adventure.

(Michael tells us:) Speaking personally, I have loved travelling since I was a teenager- first hitching round Europe, sleeping in the mountains of Greece; then further afield. And as a film maker, I have been lucky enough to have had the chance to make many documentary films which have followed great journeys in History- not staying in Hilton hotels, but on the ground, sleeping out, going over the terrain with great figures in history, texts in hand.

In the late nineties we followed Alexander the Great’s entire route from Greece through Iran and Central Asia to India; a series which has been seen in 130 territories.  Then our Conquistadors series involved epic journeys in the footsteps of Cortes, Pizarro, Orellana and Cabeza de Vaca in Central America, the Andes and Amazonia. More recently I followed Antonio Andrade’s literally fantastic journey from India to Western Tibet and Mount Kailash and this year in the Story of China I had the chance to reprise the Buddhist monk Xuanzang’s epic journey from  China to India along the Silk Road. So the themes of this exciting and path breaking conference are very near to my heart. It is no surprise that I think travel broadens the mind!!

In my talk I shall be telling some intriguing stories from Mexico, China and South India in the Age of Discovery and showing clips from several of our films. Each of the stories opens up themes which are still really important to us today – namely the Western impact on the world and our understanding of other cultures and civilisations whose values are different from our own – in other words, our sympathy and empathy for ‘the Other.’   To my mind these are still relevant, indeed burning issues in the 21st century. A couple of tales and clips will be less known to the audience, and one I hope will be for nearly everyone, a total and delightful surprise!!

Michael Wood - Historian, broadcaster and filmmaker

Michael Wood – Historian, broadcaster and filmmaker


Ann Fender Memorial Lecture

If you’re in Lichfield on Thursday 17 November at 19.30 , we’d love you to join Michael for the Ann Fender Memorial Lecture at Lichfield Cathedral on ‘The Lady of the Mercians: The Forgotten Story of the Making of England’.

This is a free event at Lichfield Cathedral and open to all, but all donations will be very warmly received.
The Ann Fender Memorial Lecture with Michael Wood


Join Michael Wood for the Jeevika Lecture 2016 at the RGS on Thurs 24th Nov

The Jeevika Lecture 2016 will be exploring the theme of “INDIA and CHINA: Modern Travels in Ancient Civilisations”. In this Lecture, illustrated with slides and clips from over three decades of journeys and film making, Michael will be talking about some of his favourite journeys, his favourite landscapes, cultures and stories…. and on the way exploring some of the comparisons and contrasts between the world’s two greatest civilisations.

Doors open at 6:30pm and close at 9:30pm. The lecture starts at 7:00pm and will be followed by an opportunity for questions, finishing at 8:00pm.

Before and after the lecture there will be a cash bar and, as at previous Jeevika Lectures, an Indian Bazaar, organised by Serena Fass, offering a wide range of high quality Indian jewellery, artefacts, clothes and books.

Michael writes:   “It’s so easy to forget the weight of India and China in world history, but just think: China today has over 1.3 billion people and the Indian subcontinent as a whole over 1.7 billion:  together they hold over 40 per cent of the world’s population!  And it’s not just their size: it is their great antiquity, amazing  diversity, and prodigious creativity. India is the world’s oldest civilisation , going back to the 7th millennium BCE in the early villages of Baluchistan and the Indus valley.  With its roots in the Bronze Age,  China has been a unified state since 2nd century BCE – the oldest continuous state on earth, a fact which has had a massive influence on the way the Chinese  see the world: for example in the tremendous importance their culture attaches to ethics and politics, going  back to Confucius and beyond.  India, in contrast to China, was never a unified state before the British, despite great dynasties like the Mauryans, the Guptas and the Moghuls ruling large parts  of it; even the British Raj was an extraordinary patchwork  of semi-independent princely states – 675 of them!   No wonder that  at the time of his youthful exploits among the Pathans Churchill famously said “there is no such thing as India!”   And yet despite Partition in 1947, no one denies the fact of the “Idea of India:”  for all its incredible ethnic linguistic and cultural diversity, sharing many aspects of a common culture -and in particular a religious universe – which has developed over many millennia.

So many questions, then, and so many conundrums: yet unending fascination!   In a nutshell, I’ll be showing pictures from my life as a film maker and traveller over the years – with a special mention for some much loved  places:  for example the ‘once every 30 year’ festival at Chidambaram in South India  which I attended last year,  an astounding temple fair in the Yellow River Plain,  science and cuisine (and all-women mosques!) in the alleys of Kaifeng, and even a glimpse of the fabulous story telling houses in old Yangzhou….Far too much to pack into one hour but I will try!!!

We are hoping for a full house, so don’t leave it too late! Tickets for the event cost £20 (plus booking fee) and are available to purchase from Eventbrite. Book tickets here.Michael Wood Jeevika Lecture 2016


Some upcoming Michael Wood talks

Hi all!

We thought you might be interested in some of Michael’s talks coming up in the next few weeks.


April 5th

Michael is doing a talk at St Botolph’s Hall, Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3TL titled ‘In Search of Shakespeare’

Tickets cost £5

“The BBC presenter and author of In Search of Shakespeare will give his own personal interpretation of the life and works of William Shakespeare in this talk based on his detailed experience and passion for the plays and poems alongside his extensive research into the biography of the historically elusive playwright.”

Find out more:


April 11th

The Battle of Brunanburh: new light on an old mystery, with Michael Wood at the University of Liverpool.

“Join film-maker and historian, Michael Wood, as he sheds light one of the most famous events of the Viking Age, the Battle of Brunanburh. 

In 937 AD a Viking and North British coalition led by Olaf Guthfrithson, King of Dublin, invaded England, only to be defeated by the Anglo-Saxon King Æthelstan at a place called Brunanburh. The site of this decisive battle is still unidentified, but over the last 40 years a consensus has grown amongst historians that it was located on the Wirral Peninsula. 

Reviewing the evidence from texts, coins and place names, and setting the war in the context of the politics of the North Sea and North Britain in the Viking era, Michael Wood will offer a new perspective on arguably the most significant battle to have taken place in Britain in the five centuries before Hastings.”

Find out more:


April 18th

Michael is doing a lecture at the Royal Geographic society on The Story of China

“Illustrated with fantastic images and clips, Michael will reflect on some of the big themes that emerged from his travels around China in the making of his recent BBC 2 series.”

Find out more:


April 22nd

The Shakespeare Birthday Lecture – The Shakespeare Circle – Stratford-upon-Avon

“The Shakespeare Birthday Lecture, Friday 22 April at 4.00pm, The Shakespeare Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon.
‘The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography’. Join Dame Margaret Drabble, Michael Wood, and Stanley Wells as they discuss Shakespeare’s intimate circle of family, friends and colleagues. How do their lives shed light on Shakespeare’s? Chaired by Paul Edmondson, and presented in collaboration with The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, and Cambridge University Press.  At the end of the lecture, there will be a special-guest appearance by poet Wendy Cope who will read her new series of Shakespeare poems, commissioned by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust for 2016.”
Tickets £10.00 adults /£8 concession (children/students/seniors and Friends of the SBT)
Find out more:

Recording a music track for ‘Story of China’.

A little behind the scenes action. Celebrated opera singer Hermione Wu joins our composer Howard Davidson to record a poem written by Li Qingzhao, an 11th Century poet for the Story of China soundtrack. Li Qingzhao was traveling to Dong Lai, where her husband had just taken a new official post. She was around 38 years of age. Penglai is a magical island where immortals live.
Here’s the translation of the poem, ‘A Farewell Letter to my Sisters’

Tears stain my silk robe with rouge and powder, as the song of farewell is repeated, thousands of times over.
I’m told the going is hard over these endless ranges of mountains that block the view.
In my lonely lodge I listen all night to the patter of the rain.
Regrets at parting drive my mind to distraction: I forget how full I filled your cups as I bade you adieu.
Be sure to send word when the wild geese pass.
After all Dong Lai is not so far off as Peng Lai.


Michael Wood Receives award from the Al-Khoei Foundation

We’re very pleased to say that Michael Wood received a special award on Saturday from the Al-Khoei Foundation, on the occasion of the international conference in London to mark the Foundation’s 25th anniversary. The Al-Khoei Foundation are a UN affiliated Muslim charity devoted to interfaith dialogue and human rights work, with whom Maya Vision has had long connections going back to our multi-award winning film Saddam’s Killing Fields (Saddam’s Latest War in the US). They were also kind enough to lend us a beautiful location in the US whist we were filming for our series ‘Sacred Journeys’.